I'm a Ukulele Player by Leslie Langley

I play the ukulele. When I mention this to people, after the spit takes and rude remarks, they ask me why I don’t play a real instrument. Contrary to popular beliefe, the ukulele is not the spawn of an unholy union between a guitar and a cartoon character – although I do agree it looks like that. It is not a toy. Okay, maybe sometimes it’s a toy.

Don’t know much about the instrument aside from that unfortunate man named Tiny Tim? Here are some Fun Facts About The Ukulele:

·         While it is considered a Hawaiian instrument, it was really invented by Portuguese immigrants to the island, based on their traditional madieran instruments - machete do braçabraguinharajāo, and cavaquinho.  And no, I have no idea how to pronounce that. Any of it.

·         It is played by a very unusual list of celebrities, from mega billionaire Warren Buffet to The Beatles to Phil the Minion and Sponge Bob Square Pants.

·         “Ukulele” means “Jumping Flea” in Hawaiian. Don’t feel bad. I don’t get it either.

·         It is pronounced, “oo-koo-lay-lee.” Apparently I’ve been pronouncing it wrong for 4 years.

·         The original strings were made of catgut. I have to wonder what possessed someone to say, “Hey, we need something to make the strings of this uke with. How about a dead cat’s intestines?” Well, hopefully the cat was dead.

·         There are four sizes of ukuleles: Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone – all different sizes. There are even offshoots, like the banjulele (which is fun to say) and the bass uke (which I’m assuming, like it’s guitar counterpart, is played by the men your mother warned you about).

·         It’s often referred to as the instrument ANYONE can play. This explains why I was able to pick it up. And why my daughter, the trumpet performance major, picked one up for the first time and played it like a pro.

My grandfather played the ukulele and I have his. It’s one of five I own – all Sopranos. And yes, I realize I only need one. It’s like Thin Mint cookies – you can’t eat just one. Disclaimer – you shouldn’t eat a ukulele.

My newest ukulele with pink strings – made from plastic, not real dead catgut.

My adoration for the uke led me to write my Ukulele Mysteries. UKULELE MURDER came out last July and UKULELE DEADLY comes out April 11. In fact, I’m having a 99c sale on UKULELE MURDER from April 10-16 just to celebrate!

Maybe…just maybe…this will inspire you to give the ukulele a try too.

Leslie Langtry is the USA Today Bestselling author of three cozy comedy series. She lives in the Midwest with her family and a few cats who do not appreciate her. And she hoards ukuleles (she might need an intervention).

In addition to the 99c sale of UKULELE MURDER, Leslie is giving away a signed, print copy of the book to one lucky commenter on today’s post!

UKULELE MURDER 99c SALE – April 10-16, 2017
Ukulele Murder (A Nani Johnson Mystery)
Aloha Lagoon Mysteries book #1

Nani Johnson thought she had it made when she moved from Kansas to the resort town of Aloha Lagoon, Kauai. In spite of her certifiably crazy mom, Nani is determined that nothing will stop her from becoming a ukulele virtuoso! Unfortunately her Julliard training doesn't help her break into the local music scene due to some heavy competition from the Terrible Trio—three hostile, local musicians. The only work she finds is a few bar mitzvahs and gigs at the kitschy Blue Hawaii Wedding Chapel.

But when one of Nani's competitors drops dead right after a public feud, Nani becomes the police's main suspect. A missing murder weapon, mysterious threats, and a heck of a frame-up job all have Nani worrying she'll be trading in her flowery muumuus for prison orange. Enter hunky local botanist Nick Woodfield, who just might be able to help her clear her name...that is if he doesn't have secrets of his own. With the bodies stacking up, the danger closing in, and the authorities circling, Nani must track down a killer...before she ends up the latest victim of the Ukulele Murderer!

Google Play:  http://bit.ly/2lPwb4f

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If anyone requests "Ukulele Lady," I'm out of here. I'm not going to do it. Not again. Not for the millionth time. Is that the only song tourists know? Yeesh. Please, tiki god of the Ukulele, don't let me kill a tourist today.
"'Ukulele Lady!'" a dumpy, middle-aged man in a Frankie Goes to Hollywood T-shirt screams. He gives me a knowing nod with his balding head to indicate he's the only one in the room who knows true Hawaiian culture.
I hate him. I imagine bludgeoning him with my koa wood uke.
But I don't. Do you know how hard it is to get blood out of koa wood? Well…I don't know either, but I'd guess it isn't easy.
Instead, I play the damn song—smiling as I imagine shoving his pineapple drink up his…
The crowd cheers as I perform. I know—it's not so bad having an adoring audience. But this isn't the audience I want. This is Judah Horowitz's bar mitzvah. One of the few gigs I could get in Aloha Lagoon.
My name is Hoalohanani Johnson. My mother, Harriet Jones Johnson, is a bit of a Hawaiian-obsessed nut. It's so bad that it's to the point where she believes she is the reincarnation of a Hawaiian princess and says that my name came from a dream from an ancestor god. In reality, it probably came from the bottom of a rum bottle.
To her endless annoyance, my redheaded, green-eyed mom comes from a long line of English ancestors and grew up in Kansas. Dad was a third-generation blond, brown-eyed German whose name was shortened to Johnson due to the inability to pronounce whatever the name really was. Neither of my parents had ever been to Hawaii until Mom and I moved here after Dad died.
I go by Nani. And I now live in Aloha Lagoon on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, with my mother, who now calls herself Haliaka and dyes her hair and eyebrows a ridiculous shade of black that does not look natural. I've never understood where my dark-brown hair comes from, but I look more native than she does. Always dressed in a muumuu, Mom wears hibiscus flowers in her hair and hangs out on my lanai, singing island songs all day and night, much to my neighbors' dismay. Sigh.
I finish my set, tell the crowd "aloha," and am cut off by the DJ who decides suddenly to play a gangsta rap song.
"Thank you!" Gladys Horowitz of Trenton, New Jersey, and Judah's mother, slips an envelope into my hands before running to the dance floor to shimmy disturbingly. Thirteen-year-old Judah hangs his head in shame.
I make my way through the crowd to the bar and order a decidedly un-Hawaiian vodka tonic.
"Here's the ten bucks I owe you." The bartender smiles, handing me money.
I gulp my drink, slapping an empty glass on the bar. "I told you, someone requests it every time." I take his money and head to my car. My shift in hell is over.


jrlindermuth said…
I don't play the ukelele or any other instrument. My mother, who also played piano and organ, strummed a mean ukelele. Thanks to you, I now know more about the instrument. Thanks for a fun, informative read. Your book sounds like fun, too.
Dee Card said…
Interesting interview and sounds like I will be ordering a copy.
Kathleen Costa said…
My father played the ukulele. When he was young and in the wake of his sister getting singing lessons, he was asked if there was an instrument he might want to learn to play. My grandmother was hoping for a concert pianist or jazz saxophonist. Instead he said he wanted to learn to play the ukulele. But unfortunately much later when he became a dad, rambunctious children broke it...it was my sister, not me...and I'm sticking to that story! He did get himself a smaller one during one of his many trips to the islands, and after he died, I inherited it. So, I'm trying to learn to play it.
I really enjoy the Aloha Lagoon Mystery series, and Ukulele Murder was very entertaining..excited about the new book!

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